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To Blame or Not To Blame

For every choice there is a consequence! In today's environment of Enron, HP and other corporate scandals we find executives facing prison time due to their choices. The question explored here is - who's to blame?

“A man can fall many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.” (John Burroughs)“Fire her, she set me up!” John yelled quite loudly. He was incredibly angry and for good reason. However, he was really angry at the wrong person. What he was really saying was to himself, “Fire me, I set me up!” He was holding the wrong person accountable for his ethical choices.

Indeed John was set up. However, it was John’s choice to enter into the trap. She did not force him; she had no position of power to coerce him. All she did was to flirt with him and he, the manager, stepped over the boundary and entered into an unethical relationship. It wasn’t illegal and I will not judge its morality, but it was unethical because he was the manager and she was the employee.

John was not terminated for the offense. He was offered an equal position at another location with an appropriate repremand. He did not want another location. He wanted this one. He was very angry and very bitter. He could not understand why she did not get any consequences. The company was wrong and had hurt him. After all, she blinked her eyes and seduced him! John quit the company, exclaiming “I hate her for what she has done!” he exclaimed. “I hate her and I hope she gets hers!” With that, he slammed the door and was gone. John chose to enter into an unethical relationship and received a negative consequence. Then he created the outcome of lost opportunities by refusing the consequence and using the opportunity as a learning experience to move him forward to making ethical choices. John’s decision to leave was neither ethical nor unethical. It was merely an outcome Every one of us, sometime in life, will be faced with temptation. It is a given. For each of us the temptation is different depending on the area of our life that needs the greatest growth. For John, it was this employee, for me it was money to maintain the illusion of success, for someone else it is drugs, alcohol, or pornography. Take your pick, there are many lures. You can’t wish the temptations away. An alternative to wishing is for you to know yourself and know your temptation well enough to recognize it when it raises its ugly head. Temptations present us the opportunity to strengthen our character, and create a foundation to stand on when making sometimes tough ethical decisions. Each time temptation presents itself and we choose the high road we affirm our ethical foundation. There are times we will choose the temptation. That is human and reminds us of the need to stay on track. The failure comes in not recognizing that we chose to enter into the temptation and hence, we blame someone else. One of the interesting things about blame is that it gives the object of our blame power over us. In fact, we not only empower the object, but also we de-empower ourselves. How willingly we choose that. Mary Auda, founder of Change Through Transformation, shared with me an example of that principle. “Victims of sexual abuse often continue the victimization by continuing to blame their perpetrators for today’s choices.” She says that, “the perpetrators chose to cross the boundaries, violate the child and take his/her power away from them and are responsible for their unethical and immoral choices.” The damage of the abuse is significant. However, transforming from victim to survivor requires accepting responsibility for their own choices today thus taking their power away from the perpetrator. By no means is this an easy task but by holding the perpetrators accountable for the past and accepting responsibility for the present, they are able to move on in their journey.

Blame has no purpose but to cripple us. John was crippled because he continued in blaming Jane, and today still carries the grudge. Since this has happened, he learned that the employee setting him up had an ulterior motive. Jane set a trap for John so he could be removed from the location as she had chosen to defraud the company and was engaged in her own unethical and illegal behavior. She studied her prey and knew his weakness and created the trap to serve her own purposes. Because he didn’t know his temptation or himself well, he willingly walked into the trap. While he still held anger at the events of the past, he gained some satisfaction. The consequences of her clear unethical choices resulted in more catastrophic consequences than he had experienced. Her choices resulted in jail time away from her family. He left the company and created his own competing company and is doing well today.

Choices always lead to positive results or negative consequences. We are personally responsible and accountable for our choices regardless of what motivates them in the beginning. Jane said the company was at fault for her theft because they had no controls (check and balances) on the money coming through the door. John said Jane was at fault for his unethical behavior towards her because she flirted with him. When each of them holds themselves responsible and accountable for their unethical choices, then, and only then will they be able to move forward and create different opportunities and choices in their life.

Chuck Gallagher, an international keynote speaker speaks about choices, consequences, and personal accountability. While his audience is primarily business groups, Chuck created the Choices Foundation (a non-profit organization). Through this organization Chuck Gallagher travels to high schools and colleges teaching these principles from his personal experiences. For information on the Choices Foundation (a non-profit organization) and the presentations on ethics given by Chuck GallagherHealth Fitness Articles, contact Chuck at or visit

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On a crisp October day in 1995, Chuck Gallagher took 23 physical steps… opened a door… and began a new experience that was life-changing. Gallagher explores that experience and the success that followed… while involving the reader in ways that could be life-altering for them. Gallagher captures the heart of the audience in an honest way that deals with human emotion. For information on Chuck’s keynotes and workshops go to or for a free ezine on Ethical Choices contact Chuck at

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